Editor's note: The original version of this article reported that the director bought shares two days before the company made an announcement. This is incorrect. He bought shares three days after the announcement. We regret and apologize for the mistake.
You knew it had to happen.
Not long after I had written that Stamps.com
OK, some dubious portraits made it through the censors, but then again, not many people would recognize Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu.
In response, however, Stamps.com has decided to take the draconian measure of prohibiting all photos of adults and teenagers from being printed. You can still get exciting pictures of furniture, landscapes, pets, cars, babies, and preteens printed. While the company has its own categories, you can term them Dull, Duller, Even More Dull, and Dullest.
Still, by all accounts the program is a success. Some 2,000 sheets were ordered within the first two days, while at the end of three weeks more than 40,000 sheets had been ordered. After a month of the service, more than 1 million individual PhotoStamps had been ordered. That's a lot of pictures of Fifi.
The effort is a trial program being run with the blessing of the U.S. Postal Service until Sept. 30. While Stamps.com would like the program to continue -- it should, since it gets all the money above and beyond the basic postage cost -- the program might now not be as successful as it was before The Smoking Gun's prank. If you can't put Biff's graduation picture on a stamp (but can get a picture of the chair he sat in at the ceremony) there might not be the same stampede as there had been.
Consumers are required to buy a minimum of one sheet of 20 stamps. For the typical $0.37 postage, Stamps.com charges $16.99, plus $2.99 shipping and handling. That's more than double the basic flag stamp you can pick up at the local post office.
When Stamps.com announced the program on Aug. 10, the shares of the stock jumped almost $2 a stub and then began an inexorable climb to a new 52-week high.
A PhotoStamp could be a big seller during the holidays if the Postal Service approves it for permanent status, though there's no guarantee it will. But looking at the results thus far, the post office would have to be crazy not to continue a program that encouraged the use of snail mail over email.
Fool contributor Rich Duprey would like to see the return of the Pony Express. He does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article.